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Delivering Digital

5 Ways to Achieve Digital Excellence Through Great App Development

Digital transformation depends on solid software development practices--here are some valuable tips for digital leaders to get started

From media outlets and healthcare providers to the largest banks and retailers, the success or failure of virtually every company in 2019 hinges on its ability to successfully engage with consumers via web and mobile applications. That’s why most businesses are now prioritizing DevOps-driven software development methodologies with the goal of delivering high-quality apps at high speed.

Of course, prioritizing a modern approach to software development and effectively implementing a new strategy are two dramatically different things. While many organizations have indeed shifted to a more agile approach to application delivery, most DevOps teams still struggle to deliver always-flawless, continuously updated web and mobile applications.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the steps organizations can take to overcome these challenges, so companies can ensure great app development and deliver true digital excellence. 

1. Start with Culture

If an organization is struggling to achieve its DevOps objectives, it may be a function of culture rather than technology or process. Implementing a cultural commitment to quality usually requires two things. First and foremost, a company needs the support of leadership. Leaders should demand their organizations prioritize quality and back up that imperative by green-lighting the investments necessary to drive digital excellence.

Leadership can’t do it alone, though. Secondly, a true cultural transformation requires a company-wide understanding that quality is everyone’s responsibility. Companies can’t sit back and expect a small team of quality engineers and testers to single-handedly ensure quality is baked into everything it does. Everyone needs to play a role, from C-level leaders, developers, and engineers all the way to sales and support.

2. Connect with the Customer

There’s one metric—and one metric only—for determining the extent to which an organization is achieving digital excellence, and that’s the perception of its customers. Achieving digital excellence is about delivering web and mobile applications that provide a valuable service and a flawless user experience, and only customers get to judge whether the company is pulling off this goal successfully.

The features and functionality we can now rapidly deliver to the customer via agile software development are only valuable to the extent that customers actually want and need them. So while it’s easy to get wrapped up in the power of modern development methods and technology, it’s important not to lose a connection with the customer. One suggestion for nurturing that connection: establish a customer advisory council. A council is a great way to keep that connection strong, gain valuable insight on future product direction, and build a coalition of loyal and evangelical users.

3. Test Early

Once the right culture is in place and a strong customer connection is solidified, there’s no more important step an organization can take to achieve digital excellence than to test early and often. For all the focus on DevOps and agile development, testing remains a bottleneck for most organizations. But that provides an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage for those who can get it right.

So your organization should shift testing left—meaning, test as early as possible. The name of the game is speed and quality, and by shifting testing left and initiating it early in the delivery pipeline, teams can get fast, actionable feedback to developers the moment code is written. This keeps developers productive, keeps the pipeline moving, and prevents the costly delays in both time and money that occur when bugs aren’t discovered until the end of the development cycle.

4. Run Atomic, Autonomous Tests

As critical as it is, shifting left is only effective when done in conjunction with broader testing best practices. As detailed in a recently released benchmark report on continuous testing excellence, the most critical best practice is to run atomic and autonomous tests.

These types of tests focus on a single application function and run completely independent of other tests. The short and independent tests can easily run in parallel, which keeps test suite execution fast and ensures developers aren’t sitting idle for long periods of time. It also means that should a test fail, it’s clear to developers what went wrong, enabling them to take immediate remedial action and keep the delivery pipeline moving forward without delay.

5. Leverage Modern Tooling for Scale

Once tests are properly designed, running a large number of tests in parallel across a broad range of browsers, operating systems, and devices is the final component of effective continuous testing. However, running hundreds or even thousands of tests in parallel across multiple platforms requires the right combination of automation and infrastructure, and can be complicated and challenging for most organizations to manage on their own.

This is where modern technology can help. Open source frameworks such as Selenium and Appium enable developers to more easily leverage test automation. And modern cloud-based, cross-browser testing platforms enable organizations to set up the necessary infrastructure to test across virtually any browser, operating system, or device combination with little headache.

Excellence is Attainable

Here’s the good news: Digital excellence is within every organization’s reach. By implementing  good strategic practices spanning culture, technology, and process, organizations can and will overcome the development hurdles they’re grappling with now, and deliver the kind of digital experience necessary to create happy, loyal customers.

 

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